Estonia will closely monitor the large-scale military exercise Zapad planned by Russia later this summer, Jüri Luik, candidate of the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL) for the post of minister of defense, said on Wednesday.
"Of course, since it is taking place so close to Estonia, we have to monitor it particularly closely. We will do that, and our allies will do that as well of course," Luik told BNS on Wednesday.
Luik also made a reference to Zapad when listing the reasons that made him accept the defense portfolio in the cabinet.
"When we look at what is happening in the world at the moment -- the Western union cracking, the upcoming large-scale Russian exercise, everything concerning pressure in connection with terrorism -- it is clear that the area of government of the Ministry of Defence is one of the key areas of government in the functioning of the Estonian state," Luik said.
"The problem with exercises like this is always that some kind of military moves could be made in their shadow. By this I don't mean outright war. But with an exercise held on a giant scale like this the risks definitely are way, way bigger than usual," the designated minister of defense said. "So we are keeping a close watch on the situation, and this of course also means that we are in constant diplomatic contact with our allies, large allies and small allies in the region," Luik said.
Russia's armed forces are to stage a large scale military exercise called Zapad in Western Russia and Belarus in September. In previous exercises of the same name in 2013 and 2009, Russia reportedly also rehearsed an attack on neighboring countries.
Editor: Dario Cavegn